Central Platte NRD Crane Viewing Sites Ready for Spring Crane Migration

Central Platte NRD Crane Viewing Sites Ready for Spring Crane Migration


GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska – The newly upgraded Richard Plautz Crane Viewing site in Gibbon is ready for the spring crane migration.  Jesse Mintken, Central Platte Natural Resources District’s (CPNRD) Assistant Manager, reported on the upgrades and the two grants received to assist with rehabilitation of the site to the CPNRD Board of Directors at their monthly meeting on Thursday. The viewing site, located at the intersection of Elm Island and Lowell roads, has two elevated wooden viewing decks, a concrete walking trail and parking lot to provide a safe area for the public to view Sandhill and Whooping cranes as they migrate through Nebraska in the spring.  The grants included $259,500 from the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) administered by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission with CPNRD contributing a 20% match; and $50,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for repairs on the streambank near the viewing decks.

Mintken also reported that the Alda Crane Viewing site was recently awarded $250,000 from the RTP to pave the recreational trail and three gravel parking lots with concrete to make the area fully ADA accessible. The wooden viewing platform will also be replaced. CPNRD has requested $75,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund for non-trail related improvements. Learn more about Central Platte NRD’s crane viewing sites by calling (308) 385-6282 or visiting

The board approved Amendment #1 from JEO in the amount of $10,900 for the Richard Plautz site for the level of NEPA permitting necessary. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) required significant correspondence for the rehab project.


  • Imagery-Based Fertigation  Jackson Stansell, Ph.D. UNL Student and Sentinel Fertigation CEO, provided results of imagery-based fertigation trials through N-Time™ FMS, a sensor-based management system that provides data-driven fertigation recommendations to improve profit while using nitrogen fertilizer efficiently. Stansell said 96% of farmers increased efficiency with 43 pounds/acre of average nitrogen savings with N-Time recommendations.  The producers in the trial also increased their profitability by $27.91/acre average versus typical management. 
  • Prescribed Fire Bids  The board approved a bid of $76,960 from Scholl Fire & Fuels Management Inc of Washington to conduct prescribed burns for CPNRD’s Prescribed Burn Program. The crew will be mobilized in Nebraska from March 23 through April 17, 2022. The NRD is preparing for 14 prescribed burns this spring. The CPNRD’s Prescribed Fire Program’s goal is to control undesirable vegetation, prepare sites for harvesting, planting or seeding; reduce wildfire hazards, improve wildlife habitat and plant production, remove slash and debris, and to restore and maintain ecological sites.
  • Monitoring Well Bids  The board approved a bid of $21,212.96 from Downey Drilling of Lexington, Nebraska, to construct nine monitoring wells in Hall and Howard counties.  CPNRD staff measures 450-500 wells throughout the District each spring and fall to monitor groundwater levels as part of the Groundwater Management Program.  The new wells will replace irrigation wells that are no longer accessible to measure and may be used to monitor nitrate in the groundwater.
  • Education Center/Office The Board approved phases 2 and 3 of JEO’s architectural project proposal to develop an education center and NRD office at the Upper Prairie/Silver/Moores Creek Project (PSM) site northwest of Grand Island, not to exceed $225,000. Phase 2 includes the schematic design to further develop the site plan, floor plan and overall building design. Zoning and code requirements will be reviewed along with a site survey and geotechnical soils testing. At the conclusion of this phase, the set of schematic design drawings will include a developed site plan layout, dimensioned floor plan(s), building elevations, building cross-sections, along with an updated opinion of construction cost.  Phase 3 will enlist the services of multiple engineers who specialize in the design of the structural, mechanical and electrical engineering systems. CPNRD has $1.7 million available from funds received through the Nebraska Natural Resources Development Fund for the PSM project that were approved by the Commission to be utilized for an education center in October. With those funds and the projected sale of the NRD’s current facility, the CPNRD would be able to consider construction costs to future fiscal year budgets without increasing tax requirements for building purposes.
  • Lease Agreement  The board approved a lease agreement in the amount of $31,500 from March 1 to December 15, 2022, with Tyler Kugler on property that CPNRD owns in Dawson County. Kugler owns the power unit and pivot that is on the property which is adjacent to the Orchard Alfalfa Canal. CPNRD purchased the property for future potential uses such as water delivery and/or capture with the intent of retiming waters back to the Platte River to assist the NRD with its Integrated Management Plan goals and bring water back to the river to achieve offset goals.

Managers Report  Lyndon Vogt, General Manager, reported on the following:

  • New Employee  Darren Cudaback, Precision Conservation Specialist, was introduced to the board. Cudaback began working on February 1, 2022, with Frito Lay growers for their Gothenburg facility to assist cooperators with conservation practices and nutrient management.
  • CNPPID & Dawson County Public Power  Vogt was invited to attend a joint meeting between Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District and Dawson County Public Power on February 3rd in Kearney. The two boards voted to continue working toward merging the two entities. One entity produces wholesale power and delivers irrigation water, the other is a retailer and delivers power to rural residents.
  • CPNRD Water Project Update  Over 50 individuals attended the CPNRD Water Programs Update on February 8th at the Crane Trust Nature and Visitors Center. Returned questionnaires requested that CPNRD have additional presentations concerning water quality and nitrogen management activities at future meetings.
  • South Platte River Compact Coalition  All members of the Coalition testified in support of LB 1015 to adopt the Perkins County Canal Project Act. Without this canal, Colorado has no responsibility to deliver water to Nebraska outside of the irrigation season.
  • Nebraska Recycling Council  The Nebraska Recycling Council (NRC), along with the Nebraska Chapter of the U.S. Composting Council, is researching the feasibility of partnerships between municipalities and animal feeding operations to produce compost as a soil amendment. The NRC is looking to interview local farmers and feedlot operators to evaluate the benefits and barriers to composting operations and marketability of the finished product for use on cropland.  Those interested in participating in the questionnaire or for more information may contact Gene Hanlon at 402-318-9250 or gene.hanlon [at]
  • Legislative Resolution 286  The District received a copy of LR 286 which recognizes the 50th anniversary of the creation of Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts on July 1, 2022. It was accompanied by a thank you letter from Senator Bruce Bostelman, chair of the Natural Resources Committee of the Legislature.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service  Joe Krolikowski, District Conservationist, and Carrie Thompson, Resource Conservationist, provided an update on the signup for General and Grassland Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The signup for General CRP is open until March 11, 2022, and the Grassland CRP signup will run from April 4 to May 13, 2022. CRP is a competitive program that is administered by the Farm Service Agency to help producers and landowners establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Landowners and producers interested in CRP should contact their local USDA Service Center or find information at:
  • Nebraska Natural Resources Commission  Mick Reynolds, Middle Platte Basin Representative, reported that the Water Sustainability Fund has provided funding for 78 projects from 2015-2021 in the amount of $80.5 million to achieve the water management goals set in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 2-1506. The Nebraska Natural Resources Commission (NRC) oversees WSF operations including application review, scoring & ranking, and awarding funding to successful applicants. The Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR) administers the WSF fund by initially reviewing the newly filed applications and forwarding those that meet minimum statutory requirements to the NRC.
  • Primary Election  Kelly Cole, Administrative Assistant, reported that the 11 incumbents on the CPNRD board have refiled and there are no non-incumbents who have filed. The non-incumbent deadline to file is March 1, 2022.
  • Cost-Share  Three applications were approved in the amount of $2,950 through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Program and the CPNRD prescribed burn and well decommissioning cost-share programs.

Upcoming Events

  • Board of Directors Meetings: March 24, April 28, May 26
  • Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival: Tuesday, May 17 at Central Community College and College Park in Grand Island, Nebraska.